Billie Tsien was born in Ithaca, New York and received her undergraduate degree in Fine Arts from Yale and her Master in Architecture from UCLA. Tod Williams was born in Detroit, Michigan and received his undergraduate degree and Master of Fine Arts and Architecture from Princeton University. Williams and Tsien began working together in 1977 and nine years later established their partnership, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects I Partners, in a ground floor space on Central Park South where they still work today. The thirty person firm focuses on work for institutions - museums, schools and non-profits; organizations that value issues of aspiration and meaning, timelessness and beauty. Their buildings are carefully made and useful in ways that speak to both efficiency and the spirit. A sense of rootedness, light, texture, detail, and most of all, experience are at the heart of what they build.
Over the past three decades, they have developed a compelling body of institutional work. In this time they have received more than two dozen awards from the American Institute of Architects, as well as numerous other national and international citations. Most recently, they received a 2013 National Medal of the Arts from President Obama, the 2013 Firm of the Year Award from the American Institute of Architects, and a 2014 International Fellowship from the Royal Institute of British Architects. Additional recognition includes the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Brunner Award, the New York City AIA Medal of Honor, the CooperHewitt National Design Award, the Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture, the Municipal Art Society’s Brendan Gill Prize, and the Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design.
Outside of the studio, Tod and Billie are active participants in the cultural community and maintain longstanding associations with numerous organizations devoted to the arts. Billie is the current President of the Architectural League of New York and a Director of the Public Art Fund; Tod serves as a Trustee of the Cranbrook Educational Community. Both are Fellows of the American Academy in Rome, and have been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, National Academy, and American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In parallel with their practice, they maintain active academic careers and lecture worldwide. At various times, they have taught at the Cooper Union, Harvard University, Cornell University, University of Texas, City College of New York, and Yale University. As both educators and practitioners, they are deeply committed to making a better world through architecture.